Team USA Netminder First Ice Hockey Player to Receive International Award
NEW YORK - Team USA netminder Jessie Vetter (Cottage Grove, Wis.) was today named the Sportswoman of the Year at the Women's Sports Foundation's 30th Annual Salute to Women in Sports Awards Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. Vetter, who was recognized for her accomplishments with both the U.S. Women's National Hockey Team and the University of Wisconsin women's hockey team, is the first ice hockey player to receive the international award, which is determined via fan vote.
The Women's Sports Foundation bestows the award on an individual and team each year based on their athletic achievements during the span of Aug. 1, 2008 to July 31, 2009 (the 2008 Olympics were included in last year's award). Past winners include Nastia Liukin (2008), Mia Hamm (1997, 1999) and Michelle Kwan (1998).
Vetter accomplished nearly every feat possible in women's ice hockey during the 2008-09 season. First, with her Wisconsin team, she backstopped the Badgers to their third NCAA national title in four years. She became the first goaltender in history to start in four consecutive NCAA championship games. En route to the championship, she played all but one game for Wisconsin and owned a 33-2-5 record with a national-best .942 save percentage. She set an NCAA record with 14 shutouts in 2008-09, including in the NCAA championship game, and is the all-time NCAA Division I leader in wins (91) and shutouts (39).
For her efforts, she garnered the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which is annually presented to the top player in NCAA Division I women's ice hockey. In addition, she was an All-America First Team selection, an All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association First Team honoree and was named the MVP of both the NCAA Women's Frozen Four and the WCHA Final Five.
On the international side, Vetter led Team USA to unprecedented success. For the first time ever, the U.S. Women's National Team was victorious at both international tournaments of the season - the Women's Four Nations Cup and the International Ice Hockey Federation World Women's Championship. At the 2008 Women's Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y., last November, she stopped all six Canadian shooters she faced in a shootout during the championship game to secure the first Four Nations Cup title for the U.S. since 2003.
Finally, at the 2009 IIHF World Women's Championship in Finland in April, she first posted a shutout against Finland in the playoff round, then earned a 4-1 victory over Canada in the gold-medal game to allow Team USA to successfully defend its world title for the first time in history. She made 39 saves in the world championship-winning effort. USA Hockey awarded her the Bob Allen Women's Player of the Year Award in June.
Currently, Vetter is tending goal for the 2009-10 U.S. Women's National Team during the Qwest Tour, a 10-game, nine city tour in preparation for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. For a schedule and more information, visit QwestTour.com.
Vetter was chosen from a group of 10 team-sport finalists that included Cara Black & Liezel Huber (tennis doubles), Nicole Fawcett (volleyball), Sandra Kiriasis (bobsled), Shannon Kleibrink (curling), Kelly Kulick (bowling), Danielle Lawrie (softball), Renee Montgomery (basketball), Hannah Nielsen (lacrosse) and Marta Vieira da Silva (soccer).
Gymnast Courtney Kupets received the Sportswoman of the Year Award in the individual category, while basketball star Tiffara Steward was honored with the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award. Further, The Gatorade Company received the Billie Jean King Contribution Award and Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, was awarded with the Industry Leader Award, while Annika Sorenstam and Pat Summitt received special tributes.
In addition to recognizing high-profile athletes and their supporters, the Women’s Sports Foundation uses the Annual Salute to Women in Sports to help forward its mission to promote equality and progress for women and girls in sports and athletics. For more information, visit WomensSportsFoundation.org.
photos Janos Schmidt